Northern Ireland Protocol
Brussels is to table “far-reaching” proposals to resolve the dispute over the Northern Ireland Brexit deal within weeks, its chief negotiator said yesterday, as he pledged to do “everything possible” to solve the impasse.
In a development welcomed by the main Northern Irish unionist party, Maros Sefcovic said he hoped to brief the British government in the next fortnight. He disclosed that the proposals would not be a “take it or leave it” offer but a basis for further negotiations.
Sefcovic said that he hoped it would lead to intensive discussions, with the hope of reaching a deal by the end of the year.
The Express has a similar story.
Brussels has slapped down France in a row over post-Brexit fishing rights – accusing Emmanuel Macron of weaponising the EU for his own interests, sources say.
France had been urging the EU to cut off Britain’s access to energy markets and impose trade tariffs as part of ‘retaliatory’ measures, after dozens of French fishermen were denied permits to trawl UK waters.
But Brussels sources say the EU Commission, which negotiates on behalf of the bloc, has told France to ‘cool the waters’ and stop making threats so an ‘amicable’ solution can be found.
Jersey today said that France were unlikely to follow through on the threat to cut off electricity because it would deprive 108,000 islanders of power, as well as Jersey’s hospital and schools.
‘I do not believe therefore it will happen,’ Jersey’s Minister for External Relations Ian Gorst said.
iNews also has the story.
Poland’s future in the European Union was thrown into doubt on Thursday after judges ruled that Polish law superseded EU law in the latest clash between Warsaw and Brussels.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Law and Justice, the dominant party in Poland’s governing coalition, said a different ruling would mean that “Poland is not a sovereign state”.
He added that when it came to the administration of justice, “the EU has no right to interfere”.
The ruling that the Polish constitution carried more weight than the EU treaties drew a furious reaction from politicians in Brussels, the de facto capital of the bloc. The European Commission said it “will not hesitate to make use of its powers” to protect the primacy of EU law.
They accused Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, of putting the country on the “path to Polexit”, raising the prospect of Warsaw leaving the bloc as the UK did on Dec 31.
MEPs branded Poland’s constitutional tribunal “illegitimate” because it is stuffed with Mr Morawiecki and Mr Kaczynski’s handpicked allies.
The Express has further details.
The supply of electricity to Britain this winter will be ‘tight’ and there is a greater risk of blackouts, the National Grid warned today – as soaring energy prices leave families facing sky-high bills.
Industry leaders called for ‘urgent action’ after the National Grid said electricity supplies would come under strain amid the boom in the price of natural gas – which the UK relies on to generate 42% of its power.
Government engineers say Britain has enough energy supply to meet demand and does not believe there will be winter blackouts – but the amount the country will have in reserve at peak times will be the lowest in six years.
It is the latest sign of a grim winter outlook caused by dramatically rising inflation and a supply chain crisis threatening shortages of food including season favourites such as gammon, pigs in blankets and turkey.
Exacerbating the energy crisis was the fire at a connector station in Kent last month, which will cut the amount of energy that can be imported via the 1FA undersea cable – which runs under the English Channel to Calais – by half.
By October 23, 1GW (gigawatts) of power should be restored following repairs, but the full capacity of 2GW will not be reached until more work due to last until March next year.
Gas is in high demand due to the reopening of the global economy, colder temperatures, and reduced wind and solar output due to unfavourable weather conditions. Meanwhile, Russia – a major exporter – has slashed the amount it sends to Europe.
BRITAIN is closing in on another Brexit win after the International Trade Secretary confirmed the UK is in talks over the possibility of a trade deal with the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), an economic union of Arab nations valued at more than £2.6trillion.
And Julian Jessop, the former Chief Economist at the Institute of Economic Affairs, has hailed the news as proof that Britain is lining up new trade agreements much more quickly than predicted by Brexit naysayers. Britain has embarked on a 14-week consultation on a future deal with the GCC and is seeking the views of the public and business, with International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan hoping to begin talks on a deal in 2022.
The GCC comprises the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, and it is one of the UK’s largest trading partners.
Total bilateral trade was worth over £30billion in 2020 and an accord with the six monarchies is seen as a key target for post-Brexit Britain – with the EU having failed to strike a similar agreement.
Mr Jessop told Express.co.uk: “The Department for International Trade has already rolled over or improved our existing trade deals much more quickly than most had expected.
More coverage is in City AM.
Channel migrants have been held on a double-decker bus as Border Force staff have been overwhelmed by record numbers of arrivals, watchdogs have revealed.
The Dover Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) said the surge in numbers of migrants had been so great that overstretched Border Force had to hold them in “manifestly unsuitable” tents and portacabins on a quayside car park.
It said the facilities at Tug Haven, on a jetty on Dover’s western docks, were not suitable for children or vulnerable people and put their welfare at risk. At some points it became so overcrowded that some of the migrants were even held on a double-decker bus parked at the site.
The board said the reception facility was designed as a short-term measure to hold the migrants when they first arrived but, because of the numbers, had seen migrants staying overnight sleeping on the floor and without mats until this September.
It complained that there was no separate space for children or families and instances of unaccompanied children being held in small spaces with adults they did not know.
Failures in age assessment had meant that under-18s had been mistakenly transported to immigration removal centres (IRCs) rather than being taken into care by councils.
The brief medical checks at the Tug Haven meant there were instances where migrants had been transferred to IRCs without serious health problems or injuries having been identified.
UK News is also running the story.
Flu deaths could be the worst for 50 years because of lockdowns and social distancing, health chiefs have warned, as the NHS launches the biggest ever flu vaccination drive.
More than 35 million people will be offered flu jabs this winter, amid concern that prolonged restrictions on social contact have left Britain with little immunity.
Officials fear that this winter could see up to 60,000 flu deaths – the worst figure in Britain since the 1968 Hong Kong Flu pandemic – without strong uptake of vaccines.
There is also concern about the effectiveness of this year’s jabs, because the lack of flu last year made it harder for scientists to sample the virus and predict the dominant strains.
Health chiefs said the measures introduced over the past 18 months to protect the country against coronavirus would now put the public at greater risk of flu.
The NHS has already begun the rollout of flu jabs and Covid-19 boosters. Health chiefs will urge everyone eligible to take up their chance, with the launch of a major campaign on Friday to drive take-up.
Grant Shapps today announced he is removing 47 countries from the Government’s international travel ‘red list’.
The Transport Secretary said changes coming into force from 4am on Monday October 11 will mean just seven nations remain on the banned list.
The move will open up travel between the UK and dozens of long-haul destinations including South Africa, Mexico and Thailand.
It means double-vaccinated people will be able to return to the UK from most countries in the world without having to take a pre-departure test or quarantine on arrival but they will have to take a coronavirus test on the second day they are back.
Mr Shapps also said he is easing travel rules to allow more fully-vaccinated tourists from abroad to visit the UK.
He tweeted: ‘From Monday (11th Oct) I’ll be cutting 47 destinations from our red list – including South Africa, with just 7 countries and territories remaining – all others will be included in the ‘rest of world’ category.
‘I’m also making changes so travellers visiting England have fewer entry requirements, by recognising those with fully-vax status from 37 new countries and territories including India, Turkey and Ghana, treating them the same as UK fully vax passengers.
‘The measures announced today mark the next step as we continue to open up travel and provide stability for passengers and industry while remaining on track to keep travel open for good.’
Ministers are under pressure to tell councils to withdraw planning permission for nearly 200,000 homes on greenfield sites after Boris Johnson announced that new homes will be built on previously developed land.
The Prime Minister announced in his party conference speech that “beautiful homes” should in future be built only “on brownfield sites in places where homes make sense”.
Glenigan, the construction industry experts, said that nearly half of the 408,000 undeveloped plots of land which had planning permission in England in August – 187,000 homes – were planned for greenfield land where work is yet to start.
On Thursday night, Tory MP Bob Seely, who led a backbench rebellion against the planning reforms, told The Telegraph that the Government should now ensure that uneconomic developments on greenfield sites should now be pulled.
He said that ministers should order a halt to development on “greenfield, the economics of which do not stack up, but which have been given planning permission”.
Mr Seely cited as one example the Pennyfeathers development for 900 homes in his Isle of Wight constituency, which has been criticised because of the pressure it will put on local roads.